Oh man, I feel strange. At the Sunday dojo there are some really old men, all 7th dan, who come to teach sometimes. Today, after practice, we all sat down (there was only one of the old men present) and had tea. He started talking about Siberian prison camps, and it turns out he was sentenced to 12 years in prison after the second world war.

Now, I've read up a little on the history, and it seems you had to have done something really bad to be sentenced for that long. To be fair, perhaps he was just following orders, or it wasn't his fault, or something. I don't know what he did, and I don't want to find out. The fact is, I'm really fucking freaked out by it. I mean, I think about all the horrible things that happen during wars, the death, the torture, the massacring of innocent civilians, and I feel really sorry for the people involved. But I am always far away in my warm house eating nice food when I feel sorry. But to actually come in contact with someone who may or may not have caused the suffering or death of many people... I mean, that scares the shit out of me. A lot.

And now I've read that a lot of Japanese soldiers had katanas, and that they would routinely murder people with them. So what does it mean to do kendo with this guy? Perhaps I'm just being stupid; I don't actually know what he did. But still.


Sherwood said...

The defence of "only following orders" was thrown out at Nuremburg!

The old man seems happy enough to talk about his time in the prison camp so why don't you ask him? The chances are that he was interned in the USSR after the Japanese surrender and used as forced labour.

Benjamin said...

Were people sent to prison simply because they were in the army, or did they only get sent away if they did something really bad? Another kendo guy who was there (Totoro sensei) whispered to me that someone had told him the old man was at the Nanking Massacre... scary stuff.

I don't really want to find out what happened. I mean, what if he did do something really bad... how should I deal with that?

Sherwood said...

Just how old is this guy? Nanking was 70yrs ago... that means he that he must be close to 90! Even to be in the Army at the end of WW2 he must be well into his 80's.

If he did something really bad then one can only assume that, as he is free, he has paid his debt to society.

If the Queen could entertain Emperor Hirohito and restore him to the Order of the garter, then I'm sure you can practice kendo with this guy.

Benjamin said...

I wouldn't refuse to practice kendo with him, it's just a strange feeling.

I think he is in his middle 80s, because there is another guy there who is 85 and I was told he is the oldest, so all that about Nanking must be false.

Haha, perhaps the younger Japanese weave myths around the older people.